NPA still without position on Kinder Morgan’s pipeline project

Councillors Elizabeth Ball, Melissa De Genova will not say whether they support or oppose Alberta-to-Burrard Inlet pipeline

12th and Cambie

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

Apparently, some British writer named W.E. Hickson is credited with popularizing that proverb. (By the way, why do British writers always have fancy names? Would you read more of my stuff if my byline read, M.P. Howell? Or, how about M. Patrick Howell III?)

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Anyway, I didn’t succeed in June 2015 of getting to the bottom of whether the NPA’s three city councillors supported or opposed Kinder Morgan’s Alberta-to-Burrard Inlet pipeline.

So what I did this week was try, try, try again.

As regular readers will recall, it was back in June 2015 when I posed the question – several times – to NPA Coun. Elizabeth Ball after she left a council meeting in which Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain project was discussed.

ball
NPA Coun. Elizabeth Ball. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Here’s a reminder of that back-and-forth:

Me: What’s the NPA’s position on this?

Ball: “Our position is we want to protect Vancouver every possible way we can and we’re not doing it now.”

Me: Does the NPA support Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain proposal, or not?

Ball: “The Trans Mountain proposal doesn’t exist, at this point. Oil is being shipped now. We want a response to that now. So regardless of what happens at the National Energy Board and then to the Parliament of Canada, we’re prepared. Right now, we’re not prepared for anything.”

Me: But does the NPA support the Kinder Morgan project, or not?

Ball: “We support a safe harbour and a clean harbour.”

Around and around we went, with no clear answer.

Since my Mike Wallace-like interrogation (60 Minutes reference there, kids), the National Energy Board, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Christy Clark have all given the green light to the pipeline project.

It’ll create jobs and boost Canada’s economy, they say.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, his Vision Vancouver crew and Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr remain opposed, as they have for several years. The Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam First Nations have also sought judicial reviews of the federal government’s decision on the pipeline.

The risk of an environmental disaster is too great, they say.

Which brings me back to the NPA. I called up Ball and her NPA colleague Melissa De Genova to see if either of them could provide me with a clear answer on the project. (I also called NPA Coun. George Affleck Wednesday and hadn’t heard back at the time of writing this).

Ball told me Wednesday she was going to meet this week with her fellow councillors and the party’s caucus to discuss Kinder Morgan’s project. She also mentioned having the NPA’s board involved in a decision on the party’s position.

“I don’t want to put you off, but I do want to call you the second I actually know something specific,” she said. “We’ve been certainly not against [the project], but we haven’t committed to any support. So I just want to make it really clear where things are landing, or if we’re still sort of listening to people.”

Me: But don’t you have your own opinion, councillor?

Ball: “I’ve appreciated the five conditions [set by the premier on the project] but none of us, I don’t think, at the NPA have made any kind of commitment one way or another.”

melissa
NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova. Photo Dan Toulgoet

It seems De Genova, sort of has. She returned my call shortly after my conversation with Ball. I asked the yes-or-no question and got an earful on how much the city spent on fighting the proposal (she said it cost $303,000) and how the mayor’s opposition to the pipeline will affect relations with the provincial and federal governments.

Me: OK, straight up, do you support or oppose Kinder Morgan’s pipeline project?

De Genova: “I can say that I can’t speak on behalf of the NPA because one of the reasons I chose the NPA is we all are allowed to have independent thoughts and vote the way that we want.”

Me: Huh?

De Genova, continuing: “That being said, just as I said with [the city’s plan to curb the use] of natural gas, this is a type of energy right now that is affordable in our city. If we got rid of this right now, there would not be an alternative and Vision is hell bent on getting rid of natural gas 70 per cent by 2020. I don’t see an alternative right now. So, do I support the project? In some ways, yes. Do I have reservations about other parts of the project, yes I certainly do. So I don’t think it’s that easy.”

I tried readers, I tried.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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